Pakistani Taliban commander killed during fighting in North Waziristan


The Pakistani military killed a senior commander for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan during recent fighting in North Waziristan. The commander had been released from a prison in Afghanistan, according to a statement from the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, which announced his death.

The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan said that Mohammad Hassan was killed “during a fierce battle with the Pakistan Army” in the Boya area of North Waziristan. The statement was emailed yesterday to The Long War Journal by Shahidullah Shahid, the spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban group.

The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan “in collaboration with the Mujahideen,” likely a reference to al Qaeda and allied groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, fought “a fierce battle with the Pakistan Army,” Shahidullah stated.

Hassan, who is from Kabul, Afghanistan, was freed from an Afghan prison and “reunited” with the Taliban in Pakistan, Shahidullah claimed. It is unclear where Hassan was held and when he was released. Afghan Taliban commanders and even a top leader in the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan have recently been freed from Afghan prisons and have returned to the fight. [See LWJ reports, Senior IMU leader captured by ISAF in 2011 now leads fight in northern Afghanistan, and Taliban commander behind Ghor executions was freed from prison 3 months ago.]

Hassan is the first senior leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, or any of the non-aligned Taliban groups, who has been confirmed killed during Pakistan’s military operation in North Waziristan, known as Operation Zarb-e-Azb or Sword of Muhammad.

The Pakistani military claimed earlier this month that 910 “terrorists” and 82 soldiers have been killed since it launched the operation against the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and allied jihadist groups on June 15.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a splinter group that broke off from the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, dismissed the military’s claims as “complete lies.” Jamaat-ul-Ahrar denied that hundreds of jihadists had been killed and said training camps and bomb factories were moved before the operation was launched.

Neither the Pakistani military’s claims nor Jamaat-ul-Ahrar’s refutation can be confirmed. The Pakistani military does not allow independent reporting from North Waziristan. And jihadists often intimidate reporters in the region.

The Pakistani military has not admitted to causing a single civilian casualty in the operation. And despite claiming that it is targeting the Haqqani Network and other so-called “good Taliban,” or those jihadists who do not openly fight the Pakistani state, the military has not named a single Haqqani Network or Hafiz Gul Bahadar leader, commander, or fighter killed or captured during the operation.

The military has identified only one other “terrorist” killed during the offensive — a local Taliban leader in Miramshah known as Commander Umer. The military also claimed it captured an al Qaeda explosives expert but has not named him.

For more information on Pakistan’s recent military operation in North Waziristan and “good Taliban” vs. “bad Taliban”, see LWJ and Threat Matrix reports:

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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